I love my herb garden. It's so satisfying on many levels. For one thing, it's fun to create something out of almost nothing. I grow most of my annual herbs from seed. It's inexpensive to garden with seeds. I bought my Ferry Morse Basil seeds at a local grocery store for only $1.79. I will get at least 4 beautiful basil plants for myself and may have some to give away, too! To make it almost foolproof, start your seeds in a window box or large, heavy (clay) pot. That way, when it's time to thin the seedlings and transplant them, you can easily see what you are doing. If I plant seeds directly into the garden soil, sometimes it's hard to know what's coming up! If you plant some seeds right now you will have fabulous flavor for your food all summer long and plenty to save for over the winter. Stay tuned for my fresh pesto recipe that freezes beautifully!
In our mild Virginia climate, I've now had my thyme and garlic chives "become" perennials. They do die back a little in the coldest part of the winter, but after I cut them back in the early spring, they start "greening" up. This is not technical talk, I don't know if anything can "become" perennial, it's just what's happened in my garden. The garlic chives I've had now for about 7 years, and unless it's below freezing, I can cut them almost year round. They make a pretty garnish, snipped over potato dishes and add real flavor to roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Fresh thyme is nice too, and a little goes a long way.
Rosemary is a true perennial, and will become a bush if you let it. Mine is now about 9 years old. I brought it to this house from my last home, in a big pot. I use it all year round, and when I cut it back, I keep the stems and put them in the chiminea for a wonderful, aromatic experience outside on the patio. Fresh rosemary is a real taste treat on roasted chicken, in stew or roasted veggies. It's easy to grow and looks great in your landscape or garden.
For pretty summer color all season long, try planting Cosmos. They are an old-fashioned, annual flower, with dainty fern like foliage and multi-colored flowers. You will often see pink, lavender, deep rose, white and burgundy all on the same plant! They are drought resistant and can stand up to the elements. I often put them out by my mailbox, which is in a sunny, hot spot right next to the road, and they do beautifully. They make good cut flowers too. You won't often find cosmos in a cell pack at the garden center, so you've got to try seeds if you want them.
Let me say, that I believe the secret to success in my garden at least, is dehydrated, composted cow manure. I always spread several bags over the garden after I dig it up each spring. It's only a few dollars a bag, and you will reap big rewards for spreading a little...uh.....manure.
Good luck and get gardening! It's fun, it's tasty and it's exercise, too! It's a win-win situation!